If you Google “Autoclave spore test requirements” or “Dental Office Spore Testing” you aren’t exactly overwhelmed with definitive resources that clearly lay out the requirements dental offices need to follow in order to be in compliance with the regulations the board of dentistry will enforce.
One of the biggest points of misunderstanding is how often spore testing needs to performed. What makes this all the more confusing is that some sites adverting spore testing services say it is required monthly, while others say it needs to be done weekly. If you find yourself with extra time to spare, you can always dig through the Oregon Board of Dentistry’s regulations regarding dental offices (http://www.oregon.gov/dentistry/Pages/regulations.aspx). Under Administrative Rules / Standards of Practice / Infection Control Guidelines; the regulations lay out the requirements for a dental office in Oregon:
“Heat sterilizing devices shall be tested for proper function on a weekly basis by means of a biological monitoring system that indicates micro-organisms kill. Testing results shall be retained by the licensee for the current calendar year and the two preceding calendar years.”
In short, spore testing (or autoclave testing) needs to be performed at a minimum of 1 time a week. The results from those tests need to be kept with the records of the practice for at least 3 years.
We have seen the Oregon Board of Dentistry focus in on this area as of late. The penalties for not testing regularly and maintaining the records of the tests can be pretty steep. If a complaint is filed with the board and the board chooses to investigate the complaint, they will most likely ask for records of the practice’s spore testing even if it has nothing to do with the original complaint. So be proactive, and make sure the practice has a foolproof system in place for spore testing each week and cataloging the results of each test.